Tiny Living: Not Just for New Yorkers

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This morning kicked-off construction on yet another apartment complex in Boston at the former location of the Dainty Dot building near the Rose Kennedy Greenway. A 26-story residential tower at 120 Kingston Street will replace the 121 year-old building, and with it comes hopes of populating the area with more young professionals. Though the project won’t be complete until 2014, it mirrors a trend that’s already started in areas like the Seaport: new, urban, chic and tiny living space.

My dad brags that when he was in graduate school he could fit all of his earthly possessions in his car. I don’t own a car, but I wouldn’t dare test that feat myself. It’s hard to downsize, but new housing initiatives in major cities, including New York and Boston signal it may be the future of chic living.

This summer, New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg launched adAPT NYC, a pilot program geared towards accommodating the city’s growing population of young folk. The small housing initiative calls for designers to submit plans for a 300 square foot “micro-unit” apartment, amounting to about half the size of J-Lo’s closet you saw on MTV’s Cribs.

At June’s TEDxBoston conference, Kent Larson, an architect and director of the MIT Media Lab’s Changing Places group, spoke regarding responsive housing and urban architecture and presented various ways micro-unit apartments could adapt to living needs of various occupants.

Square footage and floor plans for the building at Kingston Street aren’t clear, but developers have mentioned the availability of “several affordable” units. But, there is also the Boston Wharf Tower for those resourceful and design-savvy Bostonians. Construction of the Seaport’s Boston Wharf Tower – a $100M project – will aim to turn the neighborhood into a “24-hour mixed use community.” Residents will pay around $1,200 in rent for essentially a 450 sq ft studio apartment.

This project, along with others in the area, will bring an influx of young professionals drawn to the idea of “twenty-minute living,” as one contractor calls it. Twenty-minute living meaning, you are at most 20 minutes away from life’s necessities. Including, of course, all those fancy restaurants.

Other construction sites for small-space living include Fan Pier. So, don’t expect the construction commotion near your office downtown to subside anytime soon. But – my fingers are crossed – maybe all these new residents will bring a fresh crop of restaurants.